Prostate cancer among young up six times in 20 years

New York: Typically, prostate cancer occurs more frequently as men age into their 70s or 80s, but a US-based analysis has found that the number of younger men diagnosed with prostate cancer has increased nearly six-fold in the last 20 years.

And the disease is more likely to be aggressive in these younger men, the study said.

"Early onset prostate cancer tends to be aggressive, striking down men in the prime of their life," said Kathleen A. Cooney, professor of internal medicine and urology at University of Michigan in the US.

These fast-growing tumours in young men might be entirely missed by screening because the timeframe is short before they start to show clinical symptoms, Cooney said.

Men with a family history of prostate cancer have a two- to three-times greater chance of being diagnosed with prostate cancer. That risk increases for young men with multiple affected relatives.

The researchers are leading a new study to look at DNA of both normal and cancerous prostate tissue of men diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer before age 61.

The new analysis found that men with early onset prostate cancer had more genetic variants than men diagnosed with prostate cancer at a later age.

Genetic counselling or increased surveillance in younger men with a family history of prostate cancer may be warranted, the researchers suggested.

The study appeared in the journal Nature Reviews: Urology.